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Hardcover Flu : The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It Book

ISBN: 0374157065

ISBN13: 9780374157067

Flu : The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

The fascinating, true story of the world's deadliest disease. In 1918, the Great Flu Epidemic felled the young and healthy virtually overnight. An estimated forty million people died as the epidemic raged. Children were left orphaned and families were devastated. As many American soldiers were killed by the 1918 flu as were killed in battle during World War I. And no area of the globe was safe. Eskimos living in remote outposts in the frozen tundra...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Absolutely gripping

In August of 1918, the flu returned after its summer hiatus. However, something had seriously gone wrong after the mild flu of the preceding winter. Soldiers, and other young, healthy people started dying of a terrible pneumonia. The leading doctors of the era slaved to find a cure, but the disease seemed resistant to every step they took. Finally, after having carried away some 100 million people(!), the disease simply disappeared.This book tells the tale of that last great pandemic, and the subsequent search to identify the virus, to see to it that the disease never returns. Among the biggest events that it covers are the plague year of 1918, the Swine Flu fiasco of 1976, and the 1997 race to stop the spread of a deadly avian flu that was spreading in Hong Kong.I found this book to be nothing short of gripping! I had read several references to the 1918 flu, but have never really understood the matter. Indeed, the author's treatment of the 1976 Swine Flu and 1997 Hong Kong chicken flu (both of which I do remember) made a number of things suddenly come quite clear.I deeply enjoyed reading this book, and give it my highest recommendation. If you want to read a gripping whodunit, or a medical-type history book, or want to under current events pertaining to diseases, then I strongly suggest that you read this book!

Fascinating, Riveting Cautionary Story About The Flu of 1918

I happened upon this intriguing well-written book after finishing Laurie Garrett's wonderful exploration of the emerging microbiological threat in "The Coming Plague", and was fascinated by what I discovered in this book regarding the specifics of the most famous flu outbreak in modern times, the great world-wide flu epidemic of 1918. Nothing in recent experience, not even the AIDS epidemic, has prepared the American people for the awe-inspiring possibilities that such a rapid and devastatingly virulent flu outbreak could present to us in the new millennium, and the author details the terrifying consequences of the outbreak of influenza in the months after the end of World War One that left over forty million people and traumatized the nation.Indeed, according to author Gina Bari Kolata, the flu of 1918 was the single most dangerous flu epidemic of the 20th century, a plague so virulent it literally boggles the imagination of anyone more familiar with the yearly onset of Asian influenzas, which we may consider to be annoying, off-putting, and sometimes reason for hospitalization, but hardly the stuff of widespread death and disability. Yet in a single year it struck down more people world-wide than any known before it or since, and scientists now believe it had an usually provocative combination of natural properties in terms of its DNA that made it uniquely dangerous in terms of its threat to human beings. Yet, in spite of its historical dimensions, relatively little is known about it, and it is a little discussed and curiously mysterious area of modern history. It is only within the recent past that a dedicated team of biological scientists have been able to attempt to unlock the secrets associated with this influenza breakout by researching the influenza's DNA sequences and associated biological properties using tissue samples recovered from victims and preserved over the decades since. The author describes this attempt to uncover the truth about the 1918 flu epidemic in terms of a riveting detective story, at the same time masterfully weaving the details of the pathology of the disease itself and the devastating impact of the killer epidemic into the narrative. Included here is an absorbing and personalizing discussion of the social, economic and cultural effects of the epidemic, told in a compassionate and quite humane fashion, and it composes a disheartening look at the facts surrounding the way the influenza struck otherwise healthy twenty to forty year old citizens with such devastating results. People getting on the New York City subway at one end feeling slightly under the weather actually transpired on board before being able to reach their chosen destinations. What is truly frightening about this well-told cautionary tale is that both the author as well as public health officials warn that another such appearance of a similarly virulent pandemic flu outbreak is not only possible but is in fact p

Gina Kolata's "Flu" is an absolute must-read!

Gina Kolata makes science fun! Her writing is intricate and detailed and the chrononology of the epidemic is easy to follow. This true story is a true thriller. The flu pandemic of 1918 was one of the worst in the history of the world, yet so few people know it even existed. The book is interesting as well as educational. And reading "Flu" makes me want to change professions and study microbiology and cell science. Believe me, it doesn't matter if you are interested in science or not, this book is riveting and will demand your attention from start to finish!

Reads like a mystery novel

I was hooked on this book from the beginning. I am always reading and lately have had a hard time finding a book that could keep my attention, until Flu. I don't remember how I learned of it but I did, I bought it, and I really liked it. I definitely recommend it especially if you're bored with the same old storylines.

This is a really, really frightening book

I first became interested in new research on the 1918 flu epidemic when I read the New Yorker article about teams of researchers on the track of the illness. She seemed to have hit the story at the right time: here was modern medicine with all its bells and whistles looking for any remaining tissue samples from victims of the most devastating pandemic in the history of the world in order to keep it from happening again. The statistics: Between September and December 1918, possibly as many as 100 million people died of the flu, which raged through remote Arctic villages, Western Samoa, Philadelphia, and Cape Town with equal fury. The first cases were reported around the world on nearly the same day, and the flu was gone before the New Year with no traces remaining. It killed far more people than anthrax, Ebola, the Black Death, and AIDS, more people than died in World War I, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam combined. And the majority of victims were in the prime of life. What was this flu, and could it happen again? The race to find tissue samples from victims 80 years later sent researchers to northern Alaska, where bodies may not have defrosted since being buried, and to northern Norway where the bodies of young miners may hold fragments of the virus. Military specimen vaults were plumbed in search of tissue samples from 1918 victims. Expecting some kind of resolution, author Gina Kolata follows two teams of competing scientists who want to discover the genetic make up of this flu, and create a vaccine. The swine flu and the recent Hong Kong Duck Flu seemed wakeup calls to the possibility of another deadly epidemic. The result is terrifying: even with all the advances of modern science, researchers still cannot isolate the 1918 virus and protect us against it. "Flu" is one terrifying tale, and suspenseful enough to tempt you to call in sick. But knowing what sick really is, you probably won't.
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